Book Review: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

The Curse Keepers (Curse Keepers #1)

by Denise Grover Swank


 The Official Blurb:

The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.

Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.

Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.

The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.


My feelings on this book can be summed up as this: Sometimes good writers make bad decisions. Lots of bad decisions.

I haven’t read anything else by Denise Grover Swank but it doesn’t take long to tell whether or not someone is a good writer. Swank is a good writer, her word choices and world-building are a plus. The decisions she made with this story? Minuses across the board. It had such potential!

  • Lost colony of Roanoke tie-in? Check!
  • Native American culture tie-in? Check!
  • Mysterious supernatural tie-in? Check!
  • Execution of these three things within the story? No check. Wah wah.

Native American folklore has so little written about it in the fiction world. I’m not sure why this is. There is a fascinating culture and rich heritage that we so easily skip over. Instead, fiction releases are drowning in vampires and werewolves.  Is it some form of guilt? A “hey, we wiped all these people out for no good reason so let’s not bring that back up again” white guilt? Is it just too complicated for some readers? Do people simply not care? I don’t know the answer.

Michelle Smith has taken on aspects of the Native Canadian culture in her Nakasee Lake series and did it beautifully and respectfully.  Maybe I was spoiled by reading her books recently and that tainted my experience while reading The Curse Keepers. Maybe Swank poorly glossed over what could’ve been fascinating elements in this book.

The cliches ran rampant – feisty girl, goodlooking guy, they can’t resist each other yet they’re total jerks to each other for no good reason until they simply must fall into bed together.  Apparently, sexual tension is automatic as long as both people are reasonably attractive, it doesn’t matter if they’ve been complete bastards to one another.

DEAR WRITERS: You can write strong women. Period. End of sentence. You don’t need your female characters to be jerks to men as some weird show of strength. Treating men as throwaways doesn’t automatically make your female leads strong women. Defining their strength only through their relationship to men is a huge part of the problem with how women are defined in fiction.

Ellie was a hot mess of a character.  She refuses to put any effort into working with Collin, the other Curse Keeper and half of the key to stop the curse and saving the whole fricking world. If the entire population of the Earth is at stake, maybe put aside your foot-stomping tantrums and stop acting like a petulant child? Did Ellie have multiple personalities because her 180 degree turns were exhausting to follow.

And Collin…manwhore but oh so irresistible because women are simply powerless when it comes to a brooding man with nice biceps, right? Of course, the womanizing Collin is so completely not into Ellie for a whole day. ONE WHOLE DAY. Then they simply must have each other.  Please stop.

The curse. Ah yes, the curse that they started by touching each other. The curse that plans on wiping out most of humanity in seven days. The curse that played second fiddle to “steamy” love scenes and Ellie working at the diner because, ya know, priorities.

The twist and oh so shocking ending was anything but. Anyone that paid even a little bit of attention to any part of the book could’ve easily predicted this “twist.”  Honestly, I probably would’ve stopped reading 3/4 of the way through if I hadn’t received this from Netgalley for review. I got to the point where I simply didn’t care to read till the end because it was obvious what direction it was headed. I pushed through it anyway, rolling my eyes a lot along the way.

Overall, the story ideas didn’t live up to their potential and that’s too bad.

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